The Gaming Rant 9
This is an unedited, uncensored re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that fans can read the uncensored versions.
WARNING! This article is intended as a piece of satirical diatribe. Some readers may find the language and themes within extremely offensive.
Contains strong language, drug references and sexual references. This article is satire and does not reflect the views of TheSixthAxis or myself. Actually this week they pretty much are my views. Sue me, bitches.
I thought we’d start this week by summarising what we’ve accomplished in the first couple of months of this column. So far, we’ve slagged off most of the major games developers and publishers (a quick skim reveals Sony, Microsoft, Activision, Sega, Polyphony Digital, Square Enix, London Studio, Infinity Ward, Future Publishing, EA and Crytek so I think we’ve covered most of the bases there), PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Brent Gocke the FPQA lead for Sony in the North America region, most people who play video games with a special emphasis on the TSA staff and Modern Warfare 2 players (they are both scum so it is safe to lump them into the same category), DRM advocates, OtherOS naysayers (also known as people who aren’t interested in personal freedom), European air traffic control, Germans, Belgium, most parents in the western world (notice how I’m assuming most parents are stupid there? Well they are), everyone who uses eBay, the iPhone and iPad, Natal and the PlayStation Move vibrator. We have also proposed the introduction of FPDs (first person drinkers) and I compared myself to Hitler.
All of which made me realise that these articles have been pretty weak and don’t contain nearly enough inappropriate content. Last week it was suggested in the comments that we throw in some Madeline McCann jokes, and I thought to myself, yeah, I just wish whoever kidnapped that annoying little brat had gagged up the parents as well so we didn’t have to listen to them whining every 5 minutes. Of course, that was never gonna happen, because we all know it was the parents who did it anyway.
Can you imagine the fallout if, instead of them raping and killing her, that they had just waited a few years then bought their teenage daughter a copy of Call of Duty? You can bet they would be on TV saying it was like buying her her first shot of whisky and calling for all video games to be banned. Throw in some crying and a highly charged emotional appeal to the public for good measure. Then a few months later The News of The World exclusively reveals that the parents were actually West & Zampella’s bastard love children and were in a clandestine pact to put CoD in the hands of as many underage kids as possible to get round the age rating laws. Yeah, that sounds like typical parents these days alright. Assholes.
An Unlucky Strike
Right, let’s get this out of the way first. I WANT A FUCKING CIGARETTE. CAPS INTENDED.
On Sunday afternoon, I had smoked 13 cigarettes by 3pm and decided enough was enough, threw my ashtrays, lighters and last smoke on a hidden corner of the window sill and decided to be done with it.
Let’s not be under any illusions here though: I love smoking and would recommend it to anyone as a great way to relax, relieve boredom, socialize with like-minded smokers on the street*. Quitting is like losing a dear friend, or your favourite hobby. I quit for one reason and one reason alone: money. Smoking a pack a day in Norway costs approximately £240 per month, and money has gotten tight lately after I bought that island I mentioned a few weeks ago, so I had a choice: feed my smoking habit that has given only pleasure, reduced my daily stress level, had no side effects on my health and much like alcohol actually led me to making new friends; or feed my video game addiction that has ruined my life, drained my wallet, kept me socially isolated, increased my violent tendencies and is a perfect example of why my parents should have monitored how long I was playing for. Quitting smoking was therefore the obvious choice: for £240 I can buy, well, erm, a lot of video games every month, which as a general rule of thumb I’ll play once then never touch again.
Smokers, I call you to arms. We aren’t supposed to admit this, but come on, cigarettes taste good don’t they? Just picture yourself now, ingesting the smooth, rich, well-rounded full-bodied finely roasted taste of a Lucky Strike, puffing it out and surrounding yourself in a beautiful haze of fog. You sit back in satisfaction and say, ahh yes, this truly is a great day to be a smoker!
So, I realise of course, that I have disappointed all of you out there who indulge in my hobby too. I can assure you that as soon as my financial situation improves I will be right back on those fags faster than a cheetah on Speed. Keep the faith in me gentlemen and ladies, I will return to form as soon as my personal global economic crisis permits. Consider my temporary abstinence as emergency austerity measures.
What was it like to quit? Fucking horrible. By the time you’ve read this I’ll have been clean for 5 days (or, realistically speaking, I’ll have gone down to Shell at 1am to get some fags like normal). I knew it would be hard, but for anyone considering starting smoking let me just say that getting 4,000 chemicals out of your body including ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, butane, hydrogen cyanide, lead, mercury, vinyl chloride, methane, carbon monoxide and not least nicotine – all of which are present in every puff – is something that had me crawling the walls, going to bed, getting up, pacing around, hitting my desk, binge eating, taking tranquilizers to cheat and eventually a quite nasty bout of depression and some crying on day 3 that got me quite worried. The craving is almost insatiable and it’s almost impossible to re-focus your mind on anything else. Just now on my 5th day I am starting to feel comfortable writing about it without too much temptation to light up. Trust me, you don’t want to go through this unless you have to.
So for most of the last few days, my conversation with everyone has been pretty much the same:
“Hey Katy how’s it going?”
“I want a cigarette, fuck off”
Succinct and to the point I feel.
My therapist on Tuesday told me I was ‘deflecting from my true issues’ (it’s somewhat normal to have a therapist in Norway – if you’re a crazed psychopath bitch like me). No, really Sherlock? Fuck me did they pay you to tell me that? Maybe it’s because I WANT A FUCKING CIGARETTE! CAPS INTENDED! (cruise control for awesome)
Why do people always cite health as a reason to quit smoking? Chocolate is bad for you, alcohol is bad for you, coffee is bad for you, I don’t see people bitching at me to quit those. Yes, if you smoke a pack a day for life you have a 50% probability of cutting your lifespan by 14 years. What’s your point? Do I want to be sitting in an adult diaper in a pool of my own piss and excrement when I’m 90, unable to remember my name much less operate Gran Turismo 5 which will have just been released after some unexpected delays to support the new 3rd generation holographic displays and sex gloves? No, I don’t, I want to be in a blissful state of death before that happens. People are living too long anyway because we’ve artificially tricked out everyone’s average lifespan with drugs and other medical interventions. Cigarettes are just nature’s way of restoring the balance. And by nature, I mean Marlboro – who I believe co-invented nature in an alliance with Microsoft and Google. Patents pending.
Why would you want to quit something that both gives you pleasure and helps to ensure you won’t have to go through the Alzheimers years? Surely it’s a win-win situation?*
Mickey/Mouse: Postal Service
And so with the trauma of my week outlined above in mind, you can imagine the toll that the events which followed took on me.
It started when I went to pick up Split/Second: Randomly Appended Word Nobody Uses and Red Dead Redemption from two different stores in the mall.
Hitler: “Hi, I pre-ordered Split/Second: Last-Minute Word Added By Marketing To Sound Cool”
Man in GameStop: “Oh, we don’t have that in because there’s been a postal strike. We have Red Dead Redemption though.”
Hitler: “Hm… I pre-ordered that from Platekompaniet.”
I walk around the corner.
Hitler: “Hi, I pre-ordered Red Dead Redemption.”
Man in Platekompaniet: “Oh, we don’t have that because there’s been a postal strike.”
They didn’t have Split/Second: Unnecessary Word Which Just Makes The Title Longer either. So I walk to Spaceworld.
Hitler: “Let me guess, you don’t have Red Dead Redemption because of the postal strike.”
Man in Spaceworld: “Oh, yes we do – but only for the 360.”
Hitler doesn’t want it for the 360. Hitler wants it for PS3. Hitler knows that although the 360 version is vastly superior in every way because Rockstar are lazy gits who are too busy smoking cigarettes to do a proper port (can I have one?), Hitler (who for convenience is now a woman) likes to keep all her games on one platform. Usually, the one that sucks the least.
Hitler: “Do you have Split/Second: Something To Make It Sound Even Faster?”
Man in Spaceworld: “Yep!”
I stand there for a few moments assessing the predicament. These three shops are all within 90 seconds’ walk from each other. How in the name of Benson & Hedges can the postman deliver product A to store 1, product B and product A-360 to store 3, and nothing to store 2, when I’ve ordered product B from store 1 and product A from store 2 and nothing from store 3. Stephen Hawking didn’t answer his cellphone to help me decipher that, so only careful thought over a nice cigarette would allow me to unravel this problem as I put my Blue Toad detective skills to work! If I didn’t get these two games today, there was going to be…..a MUUUUUURRRRDAAHHHH!!
Long story short, I got it all sorted out, on the day, with some deft negotiating and a dollop of white lies. What? You know what addicts are like, they will lie to get their fix. This was an emergency situation, cut me some slack.
Split/Second: Something Something Something AWESOME! Steering wheel support
There was a time – again before I bought that island – when I had more money than sense. Now I have more video games than money, when counted in pennies. And a £400 steering seat and wheel. I love driving games, they are my favourite genre. My mouth watered at the prospect of Split/Second: Advertising Trollspeak, Blur, SBK X and ModNation Racers all in the same month – although we’ll come to that latter insult to the human race in a few moments.
So you might imagine then, that when I bust out £50 on a new racing game for a current-gen platform that presumably cost many millions of greenbacks to produce, that they might actually bother to support a pretty bog-standard Logitech steering wheel and pedal set. After all, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, GRID, Pure (which incidentally is produced by the same studio), Dirt 2, Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed ProStreet, Need For Speed Shift, hell even Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and MotorStorm Pacific Rift work fine on it, just to name some of the games I’ve played through with it – although I wouldn’t recommend using a sim wheel for those last two unless you also enjoy poking your eyes out with toothpicks. In this day and age, steering wheel support is a given, right?
Well, no, because it would appear our favourite prophylactic-eared friend has struck again by accidentally omitting this particular feature. Which for those of us with more gaming peripherals than furniture, makes it kinda useless.
What kind of moronic software developer comes up with a wicked driving game and then says, I know what will be a good idea, let’s leave out support for the most fundamental and natural control mechanism for the object the player is controlling. It’s like releasing Modern Warfare 2 on consoles without mouse support. Oh. Erm. Well ok, it’s like releasing EyePet without a motion sensor device. Hm. Ok hold on hold on I’ve got this: it’s like releasing ModNation Racers without a knife to practice slitting your wrists with while you’re waiting for the loading screens. There, nailed it (you only get the knife in the Special Edition).
With this epic failure, Split/Second: No Wheel Support gets exclusive access to the same elite league as just two other PS3 “classics”: Fuel and Anarchy: Rush Hour. Well done.
*golf clap for Black Rock*
ModNation Racers: Part 1
Phwoar. And I thought Damnation was bad.
I know 99% of the world does currently disagree with me on this somewhat sensitive point, but you may remain quiet now as I extoll the merits of my argument that ModNation Racers is about as entertaining as watching paint dry, as skill-based as satisfying a woman (hell, even I know that is based purely on the luck of which woman you pull), and as conducive to online play as an orchestra of Modern Warfare 2 players all singing YMCA by the Village People to their webcams in unison.
While United Front Games’ unfortunate pantie-shield accident – which has now been packaged and sold to unsuspecting casual gamers as entertainment – will no doubt be patched up over a period of months with many thicker towels and wings to keep it more stable, I don’t think less than exactly slightly over 95% of people who have had to disinfect their PS3s after trying this particular product would disagree that this is in fact one of the worst games ever to disgrace our shelves as gamers, with the worst online experience of any PS3 game, period (haha, get it? Period? Never mind)
Their first mistake was marketing this game as a kart racer. It’s not a kart racer. It is in fact a game of chance. It’s a game where you hold down R2, occasionally press left and right on the extraordinarily wide and nearly always gently curving roads, and hope that some rocket or other miscellaneous unavoidable weapon more potent than a Russian nuke peppered in chilis doesn’t send you spiralling to the back of the pack. If it does though, don’t worry, because if you’re in career mode – and believe me, you will be in career mode because the online is more broken than a BP clean-up operation – the rubber band AI is so harsh that it would be quicker to just go back to the main menu and toss a coin to determine the outcome of each race. Actually it wouldn’t, because going back to the main menu does actually take over an hour.
“Oh, we do some really clever things to keep the filesize down, and some pre-rendering bla bla”, to probably slightly misquote the developers. Alright, well let’s look at the facts shall we? The graphics in MNR are shit – sorry I meant “simple” – and I don’t see God of War 3 or Final Fantasy XIII taking 2 minutes to pre-load every scene, do you? Nor do they have the mandatory 4GB install that MNR has, in fact they have no install at all in both cases. So, I think, if that is the best you can do, you should pack up your PS3s, take them back to GAME and quit coding while you’re ahead.
Now I know some uninformed plebs are going to write in the comments that it’s all to do with keeping the filesize down when online. It’s not. The level file sizes are dead small because they just contain co-ordinates. The textures and 3D models are all stored on the hard disk, and due to low polygon count (that’s a euphemism for shite graphics) don’t take up much space as a 3D model is basically just a list of vertices and some diffuse and specular lighting information. The textures are also very small in this game. Some arguments about pre-compositing were thrown around, because of the uber customization available. Sorry, but since when did a machine with 7 usable SPE cores need to pre-composite textures that are probably no bigger than 256×256 each? It doesn’t. Plain and simple: this is poor programming by UFG.
So, what is it actually doing during those loading screens? And why does it love 40% and 85% so much? I think, that they didn’t figure out how to save tracks onto the disk, and also they didn’t know how to save them on their own servers. Instead they wrote all the track co-ordinates down on a piece of paper, and every time someone around the world starts a game, it connects to their server and an operator quickly types in all the co-ordinates and sends them to the player. Think about it, it makes sense: not only does it explain the loading times, but also why the online play is so screwed up. Their connections are overloaded from sending career mode tracks down the wire. The 40% and 85% parts are where they stop to pour a cup of tea or if another operator has to borrow the piece of paper with the track co-ordinates on for a different player.
Controlling this game is like trying to solve the Vulcan game of Kal-toh while skiing downhill blindfolded. On banana peels. This game doesn’t do subtle. It does left 90 degrees, right 90 degrees and forwards. If you’re very gentle with the controller you might be able to squeeze out the odd 45 degree trick. The karts feel like they are hovercrafts floating 6 inches above an ice rink with invisible curling players scrubbing the track constantly in front of you.
We’ve established then that the loading times are awful, the graphics are awful, the track design is awful, there is hardly any skill involved in winning and that the controls suck. The cut scenes are boring as hell too. Overall I’d have to say I’ve had more entertainment picking scabs at an autopsy (it was a weird day, don’t ask).
Unfortunately I’m running out of print space, so next week I’ll come to the diabolical sham that is ModNation Racers’ online play. Last week I said the game’s name rhymed with Castration Razors and now I know why: if I was a guy and I’d bought this, castration as a form of self-cleansing might be an option right now.
Steve Pope (http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2010/05/25/2-hrs-of-killzone-1-line-of-cocaine) – the psychologist named after his penchant for touching little children then blaming the subsequent personality disorders they develop on video game addiction – was a lucky sod this week because I didn’t have space to slam him down into the gutter where he belongs. Fear not, however, I know many of you out there are huge fans of his after this week, so rest assured that a finely-crafted piece of visceral about him will be forthcoming in next week’s column. Steve, you are now Kill on Sight. I can’t kill you with my priest though because that’d be a bit ironic. In the meantime, let me just say that I’m personally glad 2 hours of Killzone 2 substitutes for a line of cocaine because it really helped me and my kids get off cocaine and onto something cheaper. Secondly, please remember that my views won’t kill you, but I might if you piss me off enough.
* Smoking causes emphysema, lung cancer, makes your fingernails yellow, your house yellow, your clothes and breath stink, increases stress and anxiety, interferes with your daily routine, increases the chance your teeth will fallout by a factor of 2.5, makes you out of breath when walking far or exercising, increases your blood pressure, makes you cough constantly and costs a fortune. Do not begin to smoke. If you would like help to quit smoking, I found www.whyquit.com to be extremely motivational during my withdrawal period and a good distraction. It takes about 72 hours for the nicotine to be metabolized with a half-life of 2 hours.